Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) DVD Reviews

UFC 71: Liddell vs Jackson DVD Review

Sweet Mother of all that is good and pure! The reign of tyranny (or at least sprawl ‘n counterpunch repetition) endeth. Arise, Sir Quinton of Rampageville. Chuck Liddell seems like a cool guy… yet the integral elements of his fighting style which underpin(ned) his success have never particularly floated this writer’s boat…

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Cert: U

Length: 140 mins

Discs: 1

Sweet Mother of all that is good and pure! The reign of tyranny (or at least sprawl ‘n counterpunch repetition) endeth. Arise, Sir Quinton of Rampageville!

Chuck Liddell seems like a cool guy… yet the integral elements of his fighting style which underpin(ned) his success have never particularly floated this writer’s boat, hence my flag had been attached around the block a few times (read: Couture, Horn, Sobral and Ortiz) prior to 26 May 2007 at the MGM Grand. Ergo, optimistic I was when the man who convincingly dispatched “The Iceman” in PRIDE’s 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix was bestowed a championship match in his second Octagon foray. Plus, Dana White had his “Chuck’s only unavenged loss” sales-pitch to go in with, so everyone’s happy…

The Fights

  • Light Heavyweight Championship
    Chuck Liddell vs. Quinton Jackson
  • Karo Parisyan vs. Josh Burkman
  • Terry Martin vs. Ivan Salaverry
  • Houston Alexander vs. Keith Jardine
  • Kalib Starnes vs. Chris Leben
  • Thiago Silva vs. James Irvin
  • Alan Belcher vs. Sean Salmon
  • Jeremy Stephens vs. Din Thomas
  • Carmelo Marrero vs. Wilson Gouveia

These days, every weight class seems to have someone quietly creeping up the rankings on the outside (eg. Jon Fitch at 185lbs): for the Light Heavyweight party crasher, step forward Wilson Gouveia, who came to Vegas on this evening on the back of a stirring victory of Wes Combs at the TUF 3 Finale (review coming soon, folks), and Seth Petruzelli at UFN 9. Kongo-vanquisher Carmello Marrero took the drop to 205 after being emphatically outclassed by Gabriel Gonzaga, yet suffered similar drawbacks in this fight as in that, primarily that beyond first-rate takedown ability he has practically nowt in the way of standup or submission potency. Or, if you prefer, he has Koscheckitis. ATT member Gouveia took control with a series of punishing leg kicks, following up with a one-two of punches and knee-strike, panicking Marrero into reverting to type and shooting in, upon which he was positioned to capitalise with a guillotine choke for the first round tapout. Pretty routine win for Gouviea.

Veteran Din Thomas had also made a much unheralded cajole back into the mix in the ridiculously stacked Lightweight division at this point. First time jitters likely stunted fresh faced Jeremy Stephens in the opening four or so Thomas-controlled minutes, as once he was able to wrench free of a Rear Naked Choke into Thomas’ guard and start swinging for the fences to see out the spell, the 21 year old Iowan began to look like a genuine prospect. The youngster began the second round assuredly exchanging strikes with DT, eventually coercing Thomas into pulling guard and working a loose arm. JS resisted initially, but Din’s persistence meant he was able to extend a full armbar and secure victory, capping off yet another entertaining outing for the 155lb brigade.

A second guillotine of the night, courtesy of an exposed head just begging to be clamped, saw last-minute step-up (in both willingness to fight and packing on pounds to move up in weight) Alan Belcher polish off Sean Salmon in double quick time. Following both this an his prior mauling at the hands of Rashad Evans, Salmon has elected to head back to the smaller shows for a while, feeling he stepped up to UFC-level competition too early. Refreshing honesty, that man.

Hang on…. James Irvin is still around? Mental note to self: try and keep up. With Shogun and pals flattering to deceive at present, Thiago Silva may well represent Chute Boxe’s best chance of making waves in 2007- alas, it’s unfortunate to have to note that the final prelim in May ended abruptly as Silva’s very first takedown saw Irvin’s right leg jolt as he hit the mat, with the knee twisting to a harshly unnatural angle, with the instant stoppage being called. Try not to wince at this one.
Contendership-obscurity surely beckoned for the loser of a fight between the faltering duo of Chris Leben and Kalib Starnes. The former “Cat Smasher” set off in typical all-action form, with Starnes more placidly circling, looking for chances to engage in a clinch and make Leben’s swinging-power a non-factor. The Canadian shaded the opening round, first taking a full-steam “Crippler” to the mat, and stunning him with a quickfire flurry as he got back to feet. The second and final rounds were somewhat lethargic by comparison, with Starnes landing one big-scoring counterpunch in the second, and following up to taken Leben down once more. The body of the third saw the Team Quest man camped out in Starnes’ guard, yet ultimately getting swept when endeavouring to score some points with punches, which proved enough to swing the scorecards against TUF1, and in favour of TUF3. Far from horrible, but far from blowaway at the same time.

Ladies and gentleman…. Houston Alexander. It’s intangible for sure, but there’s something about the improbably-craniumed Nebraskan that is just positively captivating. Were it not for a late pullout from David Heath, the big man wouldn’t have gotten his forty odd seconds of fame opposite Keith Jardine. Thee New Mexico man put Alexander on the back foot with a hefty left, but got caught in a clinch when closing in to capitalise. The newcomer suddenly went ballistic with a cornucopia of insane strikes, scoring the KO with a spectacular uppercut, “The Dean Of Mean’s” gumshield electing to enter into the swing of things by evacuating his mouth in dramatic fashion. The real gut-twister was Big Houston’s post fight reaction, as he remained fixated, trance-like- on Jardine’s prone frame on the canvas. Far from the most monumental upset of the year, but still…. wow!

In a similar yarn….. I’d long felt that Ivan Salaverry was a bit hard done by in getting cut from the UFC roster in the wake of his UFN points loss to Nate Marquadt, given that he’d been on a solid run previously, and particularly impressed in stopping Joe Riggs. Suffice to say, I was glad to see him back, but bejaysus, he was positively steamrolled on this night by Terry Martin, resurgent at 185lbs. Martin kept a standing kimura attempt at bay, countering by slamming Salaverry harshly, the impact reminiscent of that of Evan Tanner against Tito Ortiz. With the Canadian dazed, a salvo of hammerfist blows drew the drapes on another astounding finish.

It must be written in the stars that Karo Parysian will never be a topline attraction: the Armenian welterweight never has anything less than a stellar outing, seldom loses, but seems to have been chugging along at the same level forever, while the likes of St Pierre and Fitch surpass him in the pecking order. One major factor may be that he doesn’t finish fights all that often, and with an underrated foe in the shape of Josh Burkman on this night, another three round affair was always on the cards. Parysian brings the Judo 101, creating opportunities for himself throughout the opening ten minutes with some tidy striking from the clinch, and impressionably taking “The People’s Warrior” down with an assortment of throws. Burkman’s solitary response was to swing, swing and keep swinging, to the point where he was desperately sucking air come the second break. The more composed “Heat” had reign to close out the fight by picking off shots from there, securing the victory via a resounding shut-out. Karo grew in stature as the fight progressed- just a decent gap in class between the fighters, but a fight that remained engrossing throughout the duration.

What can be said about the Main Event? “Rampage” made contact with a right- the first meaningful blow. Liddell looked to close in immediately with a punch to the body but got a touch overzealous…BAM! Quinton Jackson knocked out the knock-out artist with an enormous counter-right hook to the jaw, the floodgates did open…come ye and inhale the freshest of air. No doubt the UFC-only crowd were in shock, which served to make this occasion all the more epochal. With an admitted hint of bias- this is the kind of stuff that makes MMA as awesome as it is.

There’s not much else to say, except to ask how one could possibly not love this show. Two major league finishes on the undercard, a pulsating Lightweight prelim to go with the myriad of excellence that division has produced in 2007, capped off with an incisive and earth-shattering changing of the guard in the Light Heavyweight title fight. Only a smattering of less-than-top drawer outings denies UFC 71 the full compliment….

Points: 9 / 10

Stew Boyd

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